Bone marrow (BM) microenvironment (BMME) constitutes the sanctuary for leukemic cells. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms for BMME-mediated drug resistance and BM lodgment in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Gene-expression profile as well as signal pathway and protein analyses revealed that galectin-3 (Gal-3), a member of the β-gal–binding galectin family of proteins, was specifically induced by coculture with HS-5 cells, a BM stroma cell-derived cell line, in all five CML cell lines examined. It was also found that primary CML cells expressed high levels of Gal-3 in BM. Enforced expression of Gal-3 activated Akt and Erk, induced accumulation of Mcl-1, and promoted in vitro cell proliferation, multidrug resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors for Bcr-Abl and genotoxic agents as a result of impaired apoptosis induction, and chemotactic cell migration to HS-5–derived soluble factors in CML cell lines independently of Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase. The conditioned medium from Gal-3–overexpressing CML cells promoted in vitro cell proliferation of CML cells and HS-5 cells more than did the conditioned medium from parental cells. Moreover, the in vivo study in a mice transplantation model showed that Gal-3 overexpression promoted the long-term BM lodgment of CML cells. These results demonstrate that leukemia microenvironment-specific Gal-3 expression supports molecular signaling pathways for disease maintenance in BM and resistance to therapy in CML. They also suggest that Gal-3 may be a candidate therapeutic target to help overcome BMME-mediated therapeutic resistance.
Natural Sciences in General